We are almost halfway through 2018 and have had some great bouts so far. We’ve seen Pound for Pound fighters go at it, a few big fights fall through and even a few upsets as well. This Saturday has a line-up involving a few interesting match-ups, let’s take a closer look.
Lee Selby(26-1 9KO) vs. Josh Warrington(26-0 6KO)- A battle of iron fisted sluggers, this is not. This is more of a high level Chess match pitting two technicians against each other. Selby will attempt the fifth defense of his IBF Featherweight Title that he won from, then undefeated, Evgeny Gradovich(19-0-1 at the time) in May of 2015. Selby often utilizes good movement and doesn’t put himself in risky situations often, which has led to 21 victories since his lone defeat. Warrington sports a similar style, utilizing defensive moves, and striking when the opportunity is available. One thing worth noting is Warrington scored all of his knockouts in his last 11 bouts so he might be finding his power in his mid-late 20’s. It’s a tough call to predict here. Both fighters should be in fine shape to go the distance if necessary and neither should have excessive wear and tear from previous fights. I’m picking Warrington here in a fight that could go either way. Warrington by decision.
Adonis Stevenson(29-1 24KO) vs. Badou Jack(22-1-2 13KO)- This is the most intriguing bout of the week in my opinion. On the surface, it looks like Jack might get walked down by the reigning WBC Light Heavyweight Champion and succumb to his power. Records, however, do not tell the entire story. Let’s start with Stevenson and his notable 80% knockout ratio. He certainly comes into this match with the power and experience advantage(having just turned 40 years old). He’s looked strong against his recent opposition, but that opposition has been less than elite. While Stevenson has a decent right hook (fighting out of the southpaw stance), his Sunday-punch is his straight left, which he throws often and with authority. Predictability can easily be the downfall of a fighter, and a crafty opponent can spot and take advantage strategically. Jack is a strategic type of fighter. He utilizes solid basic boxing skills, a strong jab and enough movement to force Stevenson to have to find that punch. Also worth noting, Jack has been in with current/former World Champions his last 5 bouts which I feel will serve him well against the power puncher. Jack has been looking strong for the last few years, and Stevenson has been looking more like a headhunter. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Jack might be able to grind Stevenson into submission. Jack by KO.
DMV Boxing Update!
Gary Russell Jr.(28-1 17KO) vs. Joseph Diaz Jr.(26-0 14KO)- The 29-year old “Mr.” Gary Russell Jr. will enter his bout the defending WBC Featherweight Champion and stands across the ring from the strong 25-year old prospect Joseph “Jojo” Diaz Jr. This looks like a very competitive fight on paper, both have similar height and reach, both have a high boxing acumen and both seem to have enough (although not overwhelming) power to keep the other honest. What I think will show through in this match is the experience level and quality of opposition. While Diaz hasn’t exactly taken the easy road to get to his title shot, he hasn’t faced the level of opponent that Russel has. While Russel has been in the ring with former Champions such as Patrick Hyland and Jhonny Gonzalez, his only blemish was a controversial split decision loss against Pound for Pound level fighter Vasyl Lomachenko. I believe Russel’s experience will carry him to victory here, and Diaz will begin acquiring that experience now. Russel by decision.
Saturday will also mark the ring return of local DMV area prospects Cobia Breedy(10-0 4KO) and Immanuwel Aleem(17-1-1 10KO). Breedy will be taking a significant step up in opposition, taking on veteran Christopher Martin(30-9-3 10KO). A win here brings Breedy up to the next echelon of his career, and I believe he should be able to taste victory. Aleem looks to return his winning ways following the only blemish on his record. He’ll be taking on hard hitting Columbian Juan De Angel(20-8-1 18KO). Aleem has been in with stiffer competition, and unless the loss took something away from him, he should be able to snag a victory and move back into the rankings.
What are your predictions this weekend? I’m sitting at around 85% accuracy for the year, so if you think I’m making a bad call let me know in the comments below, via email PugilistsParadise@columnist.com or on Twitter @TheGreatToddMan.